Potential Health Benefits:
Health benefits from growing a home garden? People make wild health claims. Often the sick and vulnerable are preyed upon as they desperately try to find ANYTHING that might help them. Well gardening isn't some miracle cure for cancer or Fibromyalgia. But when done sensibly, growing your own produce at home can certainly promote a healthier lifestyle.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: Growing fruits and vegetables can easily result in a surplus. So we eat and eat more and MORE freshly grown veggies. With that, comes improved health.
Consider: The quality of our health depends, in part, on the quality of our food. You can grow pesticide-free, NON-GMO food! You can pick it fresh, ensuring that there is no nutrient loss.
GET MOVING! Beyond the benefits of what we eat, think about benefits of gardening as a physical activity. When we come home from work or school, it can be easy to just sit down and crash. We may be at our PC, tablet, smartphone, video game console or TV. But we sit there and "vege". Did you know that after sitting for 1 hour, your health begins to suffer?
So do you want to be healthy? Then you need to move around! When U garden, you are doing just that. You're on your feet: planting, watering, harvesting and surveying. You move around, burning calories. The blood flows!
Being outdoors (hopefully) will mean U can actually breath some fresh air. If so, this can also boost your health. As you soak up a balanced amount of sunlight this can help with Vitamin D.
A BETTER YOU: The combined effect can improve more than just your physical state. More and more research is linking gardening and outdoor activities to improved mental and emotional well-being.
FIGHTING STRESS: Do you feel that your life is becoming less stressful as technology presses forward? Certainly, most of us are more stress out than ever before! As we experience stress, our body responds physically by producing cortisol (a steroid hormone). Cortisol has a proper place in our physiological makeup. But consistently high levels of stress-induced cortisol can wreak havoc on our bodies, impairing immune function and much more.
Fortunately, taking time to garden has been shown to promote relief from acute stress. Researchers have found that 30 minutes of gardening outdoors is even more effective than reading for pleasure. It allows your cortisol levels to balance out as your mood improves.
REFOCUSED ATTENTION: Related to stress is the concept of directed (focused) attention. Psychologists are finding that the human brain has a finite capacity for directed attention. If you have a job that requires prolonged intense focus, do you feel burned out at the end of the day? All day your brain has to actively filter out background distractions and thoughts. This takes its toll until finally you experience directed attention fatigue.
But enjoying scenes of nature and the outdoors has been shown to dramatically improve your state of mind, allowing you to recover from directed attention fatigue. A walk in the park or a stroll through your garden shifts your focus to a state of involuntary (unfocused) attention. This recharges your batteries allowing you to get through the rest of your day without having a meltdown.
Therapy Through Gardening
HEALING POWER OF PLANTS? Yep, that's right! And we're not talking about medicinal treatments, such as with consuming herbal supplements. Rather, there is an actual therapeutic practice known as horticultural therapy (HT). HT is a time-proven practice which has been effective in "a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings". According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, "HT helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, HT can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance."
HELP FOR THE ELDERLY: Therapeutic gardens can be of great benefit to the elderly as well. People are finding that indoor gardening can help dementia patients through improved sleep and cognition while reducing agitation. At the NYU Langone Medical Center's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine gardening helps patients with their recovery. Whether it's stroke, heart attack or epilepsy, horticultural therapy is helping!
Even if no trauma has not occurred, the elderly can truly enjoy gardening at home. It's a great way to keep a retired person active. They can reduce the effects of stress while enjoying a harvest of whole, unprocessed foods!